U.S. Marine Sergeant O'Hara has his hands full training raw recruits, one of whom, 'Skeets' Burns, is a particular thorn in his side. If Burns's lackadaisical approach to the military were ... See full summary »
George W. Hill
Johnnie loves his train ("The General") and Annabelle Lee. When the Civil War begins he is turned down for service because he's more valuable as an engineer. Annabelle thinks it's because he's a coward. Union spies capture The General with Annabelle on board. Johnnie must rescue both his loves. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
The scene in which The Texas crashes through the bridge was the single most expensive shot of the entire silent movie era. The Texas itself remained in the river until WWII, when it was salvaged for scrap iron. See more »
The Texas engine's cab is notably round with rivets, clearly a steel cab found on engines of 1880s to 1890s vintage. See more »
There aren't too many words to describe this film other than "amazing." I am embarrassed to admit that I am 23 and this is the first time I've seen this film, however now that I have I will be certain to go out and purchase any Buster Keaton film I can get my hands on. I was lucky enough to find this film packaged along with Steamboat Bill Jr. and two Charlie Chaplin films (The Kid and Tillie's Punctured Romance) at my local Wal-Mart for a measly $5.50 and decided to give it a try. Heck, a dollar can't even buy a popsicle now-a-days, but can purchase one of the greatest comedies I've ever seen. Go figure.
I won't bother you with a detailed plot, all you really need to know is what is expressed in the opening scenes, that this man loves only two things in life, his General (the train) and his woman (who is not very likeable but still drives Buster throughout the film.) When both are taken away from him he has nothing to do but to retrieve them at any cost which begins his amazing journey.
The plot alone is entertaining, however the obvious draw of the film is Buster Keaton's amazing stunts, including the famous (and dangerous) scenes of him riding in front of a moving train while attempting to dislodge large wooden planks that are blocking the tracks in front of him. However, the entire film is one large stunt, as he jumps back and forth from carts on the moving train as if it is no big deal (today a stunt double would certainly be used, and likely a blue screen as well). The best joke, which I don't want to give away, is another great stunt as he attempts to catch up with the runaway train as he is being chased by soldiers.
My only negative comment towards the film is the soundtrack. My copy was not digitally remastered (that's what you get for $1 a movie) and released by a company called "Quality" Special Products, so I cannot speak for any newer copies, but the soundtrack for this film was the worst I had ever heard in my life. Having seen a few dozen silent films in my life (with the best being The Passion of Joan of Arc) I learned quickly that I could better enjoy the film by hitting the "mute" button and I would recommend that to you as well. I wouldn't be surprised at all if many younger people are immediately turned off by the annoyingly repetitive soundtrack.
Well, when the only thing you can say negatively about a film is the soundtrack, you can trust that the film itself is great if not the greatest silent comedy of all time. Another commenter said that this comedy is much better than those which came in the talking pictures period, and while I don't agree with that (The Thin Man series are some of the greatest "dialogue comedies") I would certainly not call the man a liar.
Buster Keaton is a genius. I hope every parent forces their child to watch at least one of his amazing films before his legacy slips away and kids begin to think that Jackie Chan is the greatest "stunt actor" in the history of film. Films like Rush Hour have nothing on "The General".
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